A woman filmmaker
A woman filmmaker. Courtesy SDSU Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film

The percentages of women working as directors, writers, producers, executive producers and editors on independent films reached recent historic highs in 2018-19, according to a new report released Tuesday.

The latest Indie Women study found that women achieved record-setting levels as directors (33% in 2018-19, up 4 percentage points from 29% in 2017- 18), writers (32% in 2018-19, up 6 percentage points from 26% in 2017-18), producers (37% in 2018-19, up 1 percentage point from 36% in 2017-18), executive producers (32% in 2018-19, up 6 percentage points from 26% in 2017- 18), and editors (29% in 2018-19, up 2 percentage points from 27% in 2017-18).

“After many years of tracking stubbornly stagnant numbers, this year women achieved healthy gains in a number of key behind-the-scenes roles,” said Martha M. Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University and the author of the report.

“Despite these increases, it is important to note that women remain dramatically underrepresented, with independent films employing more than twice as many men as women in these roles.”

Indie Women considers women’s employment on domestically and independently produced feature-length films screening at more than 20 high- profile U.S. festivals including AFI Fest, SXSW Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival.

Overall, men comprised 68% and women 32% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on films – – documentaries and narrative features — screening at the festivals in 2018- 19.

Films with at least one woman director also employed substantially higher percentages of women writers, editors, and cinematographers. On films with at least one female director, women comprised 72% of writers versus 11% on films directed exclusively by men.

On films with at least one female director, women accounted for 45% of editors versus 21% of films directed exclusively by men.

“These differences are dramatic and demonstrate that when women direct films, they disrupt traditional hiring patterns, installing women as writers, editors, and cinematographers,” Lauzen said. “This tendency counters the widespread and seemingly intractable bias that has favored male networks.”

Indie Women bills itself as the most comprehensive and longest-running study of women’s behind-the-scenes employment on independent films available. This year’s report examined over 10,700 credits on more than 970 films in 2018-19, and over 80,000 credits on almost 8,000 films over the period of 2008 to 2019.

–City News Service